The release of the detailed spending
data of all state schools showed the wide variety that exists across the country. (Correction: all state schools except academies, for whom funding information remains top secret). Secondary schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets are shown to be the best funded, with over £8,000 spent per student.
At first glance it may appear that these are over-funded. But the key question to ask is whether this funding has, in fact, worked. Has the performance of schools in these boroughs improved as a result of this funding? And the answer is, even if you look solely at exam results, there has been a dramatic improvement.
The level of funding has been a response to the challenges faced in these boroughs. As a Hackney resident I can attest that it is a great place to live, vibrant and interesting. But both Hackney and Tower Hamlets generally top tables for deprivation, youth unemployment, level of free school meals, over-crowding and other key social indicators.
Ten years ago Hackney schools were a joke. "Our education is as bad as Hackney" was about the worst thing you could say about another borough's schools. Hackney was at or near the bottom of both KS2 and GCSE tables. This has changed dramatically. Despite the same challenging backgrounds, KS2 performance is close to the national average and GCSE performance is well above that average. Both Hackney and Tower Hamlets are around the top of the league table for Contextual Value Added for secondaries.
In Hackney some will put this down to the new academies. But in fact only one academy's figures are so far included in the GCSE results and the borough first topped the value added tables when no academies had reached Year 11. If this has been an experiment in what happens when a decent level of funding is provided to inner city schools, then it has been a resounding success. The lesson is that we must find a way to provide similar levels of funding to more schools, not cut it back for the schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, as sadly will happen under the present government.